Tuesday, July 28, 2009

a little trip

Alfredo and I are visiting my folks for a few days...I'm hoping to pop back in but if not, I'll post when we get back!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bruce Variety

"Where did you get this Lorraine?"
"Bruce Variety"
It was repeated often, this sniplet of conversation. Extraordinary things you haven't seen for 20 years or more, my friend Lorraine was buying at this mysterious establishment. Finally, enough was enough. I had to see for myself.

It is a wonderland. A mishmash of kitsch and nostalgia and childhood delights.

Where else could you find such an assortment of hairnets...

and bras so unromantically merchandised...

just name it and you will find it.

It is just like the five and dime we used to break our piggybanks to shop.

Thank you so much Lorraine for our time-travel Friday excursion.

Bruce Variety is in Bethesda, Maryland. Treat yourself to a trip to this legendary store.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alfredo's Animals

Alfredo and I are working on a new project and we need your help.

We are making an animal book and we wondered if you could send us by regular mail a picture of an animal.

Just send me an email at amy@inspireco.com and I'll give you our address. He'll be so excited to get mail and then to paste your animal picture in his book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

oh deer!

Pretend that I'm not showing you something I'm not supposed to show you. It all looks so lovely all lined up and, besides, it illustrates the story I have to tell you so well.

Alfredo and I went to the farm today. We go about once a week but I always forget until too late that we should go on Wednesday mornings for the farmer's market. (Local peeps, it's Frying Pan Park) So I remembered and we went today and had a fabulous time. Alfredo got to pet the horse. I'm one of those really nervous moms who jumps when the horse moves too quickly but I tried very hard to act very cool about my baby touching an animal whose head is bigger than all of him.

Anyway, nice morning at the farm. And beautiful tomatoes, two herbs (some sort of special basil and a little chocolate mint plant...oh yeah), and a loaf of banana bread later we're on our way happily home.

We're chatting on and on about how the sheep's wool felt and how the peacock didn't show us his feathers today and how loud the peacock is when he makes a noise and how all of the ducks were sleeping. Suddenly up ahead there are brake lights. And then there was something that looked like a cow in the middle of the road. No, it's not a cow. It's a deer. It's a huge deer who had just been struck by a cement truck. Right in front of us.

There was no shielding his little eyes from the horror in front of us. The poor deer tried to get up and then fell so many times. His leg was broken almost in two and he was so desperate. Little Alfredo cried from the back "What's happening? What's happening?"

And as we passed carefully by, I looked straight into that poor deer's eyes and saw him die. I saw that very instant when he went from living, struggling, kicking and panicking into a quiet still death.

We've been talking about that poor deer all day, saying the same things over and over. He's telling everyone he sees about it and he's echoing the same words he's heard me saying "It was so terrible" and "that poor thing" and "I'm so sad" and "I can't believe it".

What makes this a bit surreal is that we were just last night working on these little deer thingies. I gave a few to Alfredo and he happily and remarkably worked away.

You see that shininess on his deer...that's a very, very thick blob of glue. He really, really likes glue.

"What's this called?"
"Amy, I love Glue"
"I love glue, too."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a peek and plans

This is a sneak peek of another swap that I'm working on. It's always hard to keep it all a secret...especially when it's looking so sweet. Maybe just showing this and saying nothing more about it is a good compromise.

Alfredo and I are getting ready to head to California in a couple of weeks to visit his family. This time I'm flying there on my own. And since his family will most likely want to spend as much time with him as possible, I'll be on my own for most of the week.

I'm staying here again...and I think I might try staying in the airstream trailer. First I'm going to check to see if they'll let me switch rooms if I'm not comfortable in it. I'm thinking I'll bring some projects along, drink coffee in the courtyard, eat here and here, catch a matinee or two, take obsenely long naps. Doesn't that sound nice?

Monday, July 20, 2009


I saw this idea over at Little Bit Funky and I had to try it.

The idea?

Freeze a bunch of waterproof toys into a block of ice. Just pour the water into the container (I used a square glass pan) and pile in the toys. I used little plastic animals since he loves them so much. Give your little one some toy tools (LBF gave hers a squirt bottle and we'll definitely try that next time!) and have fun.

Lots of good clean fun.

I think this would be a really great birthday party activity (if you have the freezer room). And Rich had the idea to freeze all sorts of bubble gum and candy for our next sweets party. Wouldn't that be fun...a new sort of pinata.

I didn't get pictures of it but I also tried this with our octopus cake pan (from WS Kids line). I put balls and marbles in it and he squealed with delight when he saw it.

Oh and due to my impatience, I took them out of the freezer a little too early. This was actually a good thing because it made the ice easier for Alfredo to break into it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

another sampler?

I just finished another sampler. This one's a gift. The squares are a bit smaller...only about 1". This was a bit of a challenge but it really helped me keep the stitches more delicate and fine.
I had this Marie Antoinette idea in my head for a while...I just kept making french knots on top of french knots making her hair-do comically tall. I was thinking it would be fun to do a sampler of all sorts of funny hair-do's....maybe next.
I used a beautiful, delicate piece of lace which I stitched over. I thought a couple of little birdies would like to call this prettiness home.
I really love making fat french knots....sometimes I wound them up 6 or 7 times. I tried once to do 10 but it made a big fat mess. I really love the 3-d quality of the cupcake frosting. yum.
Hey! I didn't even notice that little bit of black thread that is peeking out of the border...
a sweet little springtime hat.
My favorite of all. Metallic thread can be so hard to work with because it separates and knots easily but I really like the effect of it. This itty bitty cakestand looks so sweet in person.
I like how this little pink house turned out...I did a little loopy thing with the treads along the roofline to make a scallop.

Friday, July 17, 2009

eagle, all finished

Here's a picture of the eagle my father carved (or whittled, as he says). I think it is one of the most beautiful things he's ever made. He's already started on another one and he's hoping to enter it in the state fair.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

by meself!

I can't tell you much about these little pretties because they are for a swap. But tell me, aren't they the sweetest little girls? They are only about 3.5" tall. I made them a few weeks ago and they've just been hanging around, looking sweet as can be.

Alfredo is a nonstop chatterbox these days. And he's saying the funniest things. We're just having the best time. He's exerting a bit of independence and is really starting to want to do everything "by meself!"

When he wants you to do something with him he'll say "No, You!" but when he doesn't want you to do something with him he'll say "No You!" Needless to say, it's a bit confusing.

He's also starting to translate...not just understanding English and Spanish but understanding that they are different. For instance, last night I said a phrase from my long-forgotten high school spanish class... "Hay una mosca in mi sopa!" When Rich said "What?" Alfredo said "There's a bug in Amy's soup!" That's just plain amazing to me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


For a very long time now I've gazed at my kitchen window and imagined an awning there. I've looked at custom made ones but they were a bit outside my budget. I thought about making them out of wood but, for one thing, I'm no woodworker. For another, it seemed like it would be too heavy.

Then the other day the thought occurred to me to make it out of artist's canvas, which I noticed they are now selling by the roll at Michael's. But on the particular day a few weeks ago when the inspiration struck, they were sold out.

Think, think, think.

This inspiration was like an itch that had to be scratched and I just had to make the awning right there, right then.

What if...what if...what if I took a premade roman shade made of duck canvas and treated it with gesso....hmmm. Would that work? And what if I hung the shade with two tension rods...one at the top through the rod pocket...and the other at the bottom between the two cabinets at their edge. Why wouldn't that work?

Guess what! It worked perfectly. And it took only a matter of hours to make. I started on it that night and finished and hung it the very next day!

I used a plate to trace the scallop and then drew the line straight up. After I painted the pink stripes, I cut out the scallop design. Since it was treated with gesso, there's no worry of fraying.

You wouldn't believe how much more whimsical and delightful my kitchen looks with this as my over-the-kitchen-sink window treatment.

Monday, July 13, 2009

a love story, illustrated

This little sampler project started out as something to keep my fingers busy as I fretted and worried and counted down the days...

But the more I worked, the more it told a tale...
a story of love's journey.

a story of home.
a tale of risking the hardness of the stone to taste the sweetness of the fruit.
of how sweet life is,
thick with texture,
or as delicate as a breeze.
a story of a little miracle.and a wish that we dared not wish

a story of love.
the love of a very special little boy.

To our sweet little Alfredo.

Our hearts sing your song.

We love you.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Ever since Teresa announced that the theme for the vendor fair of Silver Bella is to be aprons, I've been thinking about aprons. I don't sew so I needed to think of a way to make an apron without really sewing.

When I saw this (Forever 21)


this (also at Forever21)


The gears started turning. I did some simple mathematics and came up with this...

All done during today's naptime...with time enough left over to photograph and blog it for you to see.

Happy weekend everybody!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

tiny worlds...

I just added a bunch to the etsy shop.

Monday, July 6, 2009


We went on two picnics this weekend...two proper pack-a-basket picnics!

Burke Lake Park is a great little park not too far from us. They have a miniature train that you can ride around the park...
and a carousel...

It was really just the most perfect day. The weather was wonderful and we were all in the best mood. "Sunshine on my shoulder" came on the radio on the way home and the words "If I had a day that I could give you I'd give to you a day just like today" nearly made me break down and cry. I know I'm risking super-duper corniness with this admission. I'm just feeling so joyful and so filled with gratitude and love and awe.

On another note, our refrigerator broke. On the outside I'm pretending this is the biggest bummer of all. But on the inside I'm so completely excited about getting a new refrigerator. And just look at my new beautiful refrigerator. I can't wait to fill it up with beautiful produce and frozen stuff and coca-colas all in a row.

A few weeks ago, something fell onto the coil of the dishwasher and burned so badly that I couldn't pull the bottom tray forward. I was just as inwardly giddy at the prospect of getting a new dishwasher. (the one we have is just so loud) But Rich just ran the dishwasher again to get the coils hot enough to re-melt the plastic and the darn thing works like a dream (a loud dream) again.

Oh, guess what. I made more little worlds. Here's a sneak peek...